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Georgia prisoners: Standing up by sitting down

January 5, 2011

In this Block Report broadcast on KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio and several other stations, including one in Atlanta, Minister of Information JR interviews long time Georgia prisoner Eugene Thomas about prison conditions that led up to the biggest prisoner strike in U.S. history, begun Dec. 9, 2010.

by Eugene Thomas, a prisoner in Georgia

Eugene Thomas with his mother, brother and nephews
Dec. 9, 2010, marks the first time in a long time that a group of Georgia prisoners were successful in demonstrating that they were – and are – absolutely positively tired of the slavery-like conditions of the state of Georgia, enforced through its strong arm and state prize, the Georgia Department of Corrections.

Long tired of being forced to work without compensation and under the threat of disciplinary action – bad conduct reports to the Parole Board, for example – Georgia prisoners decided it was time to sit down, rest, recuperate and reconcile themselves with their rights, human and civil.

Dec. 9 was the day at least four Georgia prisons decided it was time to sit down on the state and let the state know just how effective a prisoner protest can be. It’s reported that the Macon State, Valdosta State, Telfair State and Ware State prisoners refused to report to detail assignments, causing the state of Georgia Department of Corrections to spend resources that it never intended on spending. The state has been – like forever – relying and banking on this docile and dormant prisoner populace to remain so.

But then enters Dec. 9.

On Dec. 9, Georgia state prisoners stuck together and learned what their togetherness could do. They learned that they could get more accomplished being unified than they ever could being separated. For this day, Black, White, Brown, Red and Yellow came together. This day saw the coming together of Muslim and Christian, Protestant and Catholic, Crip and Blood, Gangster Disciple and Vice Lord, Nationalist and Socialist. All came together. All were together.

The only antagonistic forces were the Oppressors and the Oppressed. So, in Georgia, we’ve finally learned – or rather, been reminded – that with just a little unity and a lot of determination, we can change some of the longstanding exploitative practices of the state of Georgia’s Department of Corrections.

Georgia state prisoners stuck together and learned what their togetherness could do. They learned that they could get more accomplished being unified than they ever could being separated.

In concluding, I liken the “sit down” on the state to the “standing up” to a school bully, in that once you strike a blow to him, you begin to see that he has vulnerabilities too. As I read somewhere, the most vulnerable aspect of the rich is their pockets. So let’s keep hitting ‘em where it hurts – or at least where we can!

Georgia prisoners, stand up by sitting down!

Send our brother some love and light. Write to: Eugene Thomas, 671488, Georgia State Prison F-2, 2164 Georgia Highway 147, Reidsville GA 30499.

Power to the people

by Eddie J. Mann Jr.

First, I would like to express my solidarity with my brothers who locked themselves down on Dec. 9. For too long, inmates in Georgia have been mistreated and misrepresented by the Georgia General Assembly and the Georgia Department of Corrections.

The passage of Senate Bills 440 [requiring children age 13-17 to be prosecuted as adults if accused of one of the “seven deadly sins” in Georgia – murder, rape, armed robbery with a firearm, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery and voluntary manslaughter – and, if convicted, to be confined in adult prisons] and 441 [imposing a minimum sentence of 10 years without the possibility of parole upon conviction under SB 440] has ballooned the prison population to such a degree the Georgia Department of Corrections has used triple bunks and built Quonset huts and extra dorms. Georgia State Prison, a prison that once housed maximum and close security inmates in single man cells, has been transformed into a medium security prison, where inmates are housed now in two-man cells.

Yet another law passed by the Georgia General Assembly instituted a $5 medical co-payment and a $1 monthly processing fee for any funds sent to an inmate. [These are large sums for prisoners forced to work without any pay whatsoever. – ed.]

Originally, inmates circumvented these fees by keeping less than $10 in their accounts. The Georgia Department of Corrections implemented the “sub-account,” where all inmates had $10 taken from their accounts and placed into a reserve account. Once placed in the reserve account, these funds remain frozen for the duration of an inmate’s sentence.

Further, inmates pay $4 for any finding of guilt for a disciplinary report. These kangaroo courts have 95 percent conviction rates.

Now Bank of America, in consolidation with the Georgia Department of Corrections, charges inmates $.75 for each money order received. Yes, this is the same Bank of America that received stimulus funds from the Obama administration.

Our family members work and pay taxes that fund state projects, yet the same funds that they send loved ones behind the wall are taxed … twice.

It’s time the citizens of Georgia awaken to the machinations of the Georgia General Assembly and the Georgia Department of Corrections.

These laws must be repealed

Until the following laws, rules and regulations are amended or repealed, inmates in Georgia will continue to suffer:

OCGA Title 42-5-60 Hiring Out of Inmates

OCGA Title 42-5-120 (Rules and Regulations) Voluntary Labor Program

• OCGA Title 17-10-6.1 Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

• OCGA Title 42-5-55 Medical Processing Fee

• OCGA Title 42-12-7.1 Court Costs

• Georgia Department of Corrections Rules 125-3-2-06 Disciplinary Hearing

Send our brother some love and light. Write to: Eddie J. Mann Jr., 449094, F-2-15T, Georgia State Prison, 2164 Georgia Hwy 147, Reidsville GA 30499.

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